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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Old Seeds Still Germinate Toplef10Old Seeds Still Germinate 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Old Seeds Still Germinate I22gcj10Old Seeds Still Germinate 14dhcg10

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Old Seeds Still Germinate

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Post  OhioGardener 12/9/2020, 12:54 pm

While cleaning out the seed box to make sure everything was ready for next spring, I found an old package of Glaskins Perpetual Rhubarb seeds.  I had bought them years ago to start some new Rhubarb for the garden, and had a lot of seeds left over that were never used. I really don't need any more Rhubarb plants, and thought about throwing out the old seeds.  But the gardener in me wouldn't let me throw them out, so I decided to plant a few to see if they would germinate. I set up four 4" Cow Pots to plant them in, then dumped the Rhubarb seeds in some warm water to soak them over night. After the seeds had soaked, I put 4 seeds in each 4" pot expecting maybe one of the 4 would germinate. Today I went out to check on them, and was surprised to see that 4 seeds had sprouted in 3 of the pots, and 3 seeds had germinated in the 4th pot - 15 of the 16 seeds germinated.  Apparently Rhubarb seeds are very durable.  Now, I will have to do some transplanting seedlings to their own pots, and then I will have to find friends or neighbors that would like to start a Rhubarb plot.

But then, Baker Creek's seeds have always been very reliable....

Old Seeds Still Germinate Glaski10

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"In short, the soil food web feeds everything you eat and helps keep your favorite planet from getting too hot. Be nice to it."  ~ Diane Miessler, "Grow Your Soil"
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Post  markqz 12/9/2020, 6:12 pm

I was surprised that there wasn't a Rhubarb section in the appendix in Mel's book. But when I went looking online, I found that information on Rhubarb seed storage was harder to get than for other seeds.

This list claimed only 1 to 2 years!

Is there a date on your seed package?
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Post  OhioGardener 12/9/2020, 6:55 pm

Mark, it doesn't surprise me that Rhubarb isn't in Mel's book. It is a very durable perennial that grows primarily in the northern climate since they require at least 6 weeks of below 40ºF temps to force dormancy. And, since the plants grow about 3' diameter and about 3' tall, they aren't a good candidate for SFG.

 As I recall, seeds were packed for the 2015 planting season, which means they were harvested in the fall of 2014.

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Post  markqz 12/9/2020, 7:52 pm

OhioGardener wrote:Mark, it doesn't surprise me that Rhubarb isn't in Mel's book. It is a very durable perennial that grows primarily in the northern climate since they require at least 6 weeks of below 40ºF temps to force dormancy. And, since the plants grow about 3' diameter and about 3' tall, they aren't a good candidate for SFG.

 As I recall, seeds were packed for the 2015 planting season, which means they were harvested in the fall of 2014.

What is the dormancy about? Is that needed to prevent bolting? It sounds like they wouldn't grow here -- especially this year where it's still hot in December.

They used to grow almost wild where I grew up. My dad like them in rhubarb pie, but I'm not sure if anyone else in the family particularly enjoyed them.
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Post  Steelcurtain67 12/14/2020, 12:33 pm

Seeds can be saved for a long long time depending on how they are stored.

For a decade or so desiccate them with silica gel then store them in a metallized plastic bag.   Regular plastic bags are too permeable for long term storage .  I store mine this way and keep a small (~4x6) cloth bag filled with silica gel in the storage bag with the seeds.

If you want to keep them multiple decades store them desiccated and in the freezer.

If you want to keep them a century or more then desiccated and at liquid nitrogen temps. Very Happy .


If you are really interested is seed storage do a  search for "seed storage facilities for genetic conservation" on google scholar, tons of publications.
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Post  markqz 12/14/2020, 5:06 pm

Steelcurtain67 wrote:
For a decade or so desiccate them with silica gel then store them in a metallized plastic bag.   Regular plastic bags are too permeable for long term storage .  I store mine this way and keep a small (~4x6) cloth bag filled with silica gel in the storage bag with the seeds.

I've been following Mel's way, but yours sounds interesting. Do you have a name brand for the metallized plastic bags? I assume you mean mylar bags. Mylar balloons will stay inflated almost forever, so it makes sense they would be more air-tight.

Steelcurtain67 wrote:
If you want to keep them a century or more then desiccated and at liquid nitrogen temps. Very Happy .

Sorry, that's where I keep my vaccines. Wink

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Old Seeds Still Germinate Empty Storage Bags

Post  Steelcurtain67 12/14/2020, 6:10 pm

I just use Splenda or Stevia sweetener bags.  You could also use most brands of crouton bag.
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